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Here's Five: Saddest Songs By Mark Kozelek aka Sun Kil Moon

Here's Five: Saddest Songs By Mark Kozelek aka Sun Kil Moon

Wednesday 24th May, 2017 11:01AM

Brimming with anticipation for Sun Kil Moon's sold-out show at Auckland's Tuning Fork on Sunday, we reached out to our friend Jeremy Taylor from the iconic Slow Boat Records store in Wellington. Jeremy is an avid fan of Kozelek's, and well familiar with his hearty (and heart-wrenching) back-catalogue, and has kindly chosen some string-tuggers he thinks we should all get acquainted with - whether you managed to nab tickets to the show or not. Brace yourself and soak up this beautiful melancholia...

Mark Kozelek is a San Francisco-based singer-songwriter who has fronted both Red House Painters and currently Sun Kil Moon ... He is also responsible for some of the most deeply melancholy music ever recorded, and is, by my reckoning, one of the greatest living American songwriters. Here are just five examples -JT

1. Sun Kil Moon - 'Carissa'

The opening track to 2014’s stone cold classic Benji is a song describing the tragic accidental death of Kozelek’s cousin when “an aerosol can blew up in the trash”, which serves as a springboard for childhood reminiscence, nostalgia and regret – the tragedy is doubled when it is revealed that Kozelek’s uncle died by the same unlikely means. And when it hits that gorgeous chorus; “Carissa was thirty five, you don’t just raise two kids, take out your trash and die...”, it would take a hard heart indeed not to weep at the tragic injustice of it all.


2. Red House Painters - 'Katy Song
“Glass on the pavement under my shoe, without you is all my life amounts to” – Kozelek’s great early muse also had her life cut tragically short; this song has a gorgeous melody, and the greatest swelling, wordless outtro. The second RHP’s album (self-titled, but usually referred to as “Rollercoaster”, to differentiate it from from the third album, which is also self-titled), which this comes from, is, by my reckoning, Kozelek’s first classic album, from which you could pick any number of beautiful, tragic songs - 'Grace Cathedral Park', 'Down Through', 'Strawberry Hill', 'Dragonflies'. Probably the best starting point for those unfamiliar with Kozelek’s singular oeuvre.

3. Mark Kozelek - 'Ruth Marie'

A touching paen to Katy’s grandmother, from the post RHP solo album Rock And Roll Singer, which also featured a clutch of AC/DC covers - the subsequent What’s Next To The Moon was entirely comprised of Bon Scott-era AC/DC songs, rendered in his distinctive, melancholy style.

4. Sun Kil Moon - 'Ocean Breathes Salty'

The second Sun Kil Moon album is entirely comprised of Modest Mouse covers, and Isaac Brock’s tricksy wordplay seems to be just begging for the Kozelek interpretation treatment. - “you wasted life, why wouldn’t you waste death?”, entreats Kozelek, with Brock’s words, as blissed out tangles of acoustic guitar fall around him.

5. Sun Kil Moon - 'Admiral Fell Promises'

When quizzed on his favourite record stores worldwide, Kozelek name-checked Slow Boat, and an Andre Segovia 5CD set (that I sold him!) that he credited with “changing his life”. Certainly it saw a change in musical direction, as he embraced the nylon string guitar, and the neo-classical guitar flourishes that coloured this album. “A thousand days have passed, in this house she and I were sharing, and I hate myself for it, but I have stopped caring”, his voice heavy with regret. His coldest, starkest and most monochromatic album since the Red House Painters debut “Down Colorful Hill”, some eighteen years earlier.

UnderTheRadar Proudly Presents...

Sun Kil Moon
Sunday 28th May, The Tuning Fork, Auckland

Sorry folks, if you missed out on tickets this show is sold out!!!


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